The joy of growing old

08 October 2018 | Columns

Julienne van Rooyen

After another year there’s an extra wrinkle staring back at me in the mirror and things are going downhill at a relatively fast pace – and all in a southerly direction.

I have tried making peace with all the signs of ageing, however there are even stranger things happening.

A noticeable difference is that now for some or other reason, the older you get, the more your body seems to start believing that you need to grow extra hair in the strangest places, while losing hair from other very important places. Why on earth would we need more hair growing on our ears, our backs or who knows where else it will decide to sprout from next?

Then there’s also the comments people make like telling you that you look tired after you wake up feeling completely refreshed having had a good night’s rest with over ten hours of solid sleep.

Once you enter a certain age, there are always comments about how old you’re getting on your birthday, which only adds fuel to the fire.

Besides all the physical changes that you have to get used to, I think the strangest part of growing old is the fact that at a certain age, you are supposed to generally have your life sorted out. There is a preconceived notion that you are supposed to know exactly in what direction you are heading in life, with your career and family, and also that you are supposed to feel the age that your identity document so harshly indicates you to be.

I always thought that someone who was in their thirties was really ancient when I was younger, until I recently realised that I am approaching 36. I now discover that at this ripe old age, there is still a lot more that I want to do and that I am still trying to figure out in life, which I’m sure most people at my age also feel.

After spending some quality time with a relative who celebrated his 83rd birthday a few months ago, it gives me such a wonderful feeling of reassurance to now know that I am not the only one. Here’s somebody who has had so much experience when it comes to life, but at the same time still has all the fears that I have at my age and who is also still trying to figure out many things in his life.

I may grudgingly have accepted being called “tannie” by the younger generation, but that certainly does not mean that I know what I’m doing half the time. However, when my seven year old child has tons of questions to ask me about life, and this is usually completely out of the blue, I have to have enough sense to try to lead him in the right direction and come up with an answer that actually makes sense.

As I approach my next birthday, I would like to gain more wisdom and insight and try to keep reminding myself that no matter what their age, no-one really has everything figured out.

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